Thursday, April 18, 2024

Supernal opens new engineering hub in California

California is a home for both American AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) companies and eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) manufacturers from Asia who are seeking FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) certification. Now, another South Korean player has opened its gates in Irvine.

Supernal, Korean carmaker Hyundai’s advanced air mobility subsidiary, has opened its engineering headquarters in Irvine, California. The company will conduct the development work for its four-passenger SA-1 eVTOL air taxi in the new facility.

It is one of three permanent facilities Supernal is opening this year, which include a Californian R&D facility in Fremont and a policy and commercial hub in Washington, DC.

Supernal currently employs more than 200 people at its Irvine locations, which include approximately 105,000 square feet of office space and an 80,000-square-foot satellite test and evaluation site. With the new office opening, the company now has the capacity to expand its Irvine-based workforce to 500 employees and plans to hire more than 100 employees for its Irvine facilities this year.

The company’s four-story Irvine office space boasts an unconventional, aviation-inspired design. Light fixtures throughout resemble clouds to create an ethereal ambiance, while flight paths guide employees throughout the space, and the office’s game room features aviation-themed decor and inspiring quotes, adding an element of playfulness and creativity.

“The key to realizing the potential of Advanced Air Mobility hinges on leveraging exceptional tech talent, making Irvine the prime location for our engineering headquarters,” said Jaiwon Shin, president of Hyundai Motor Group and CEO of Supernal. “This strategic location enables us to expand our rapidly growing team of industry experts in aerospace, automotive, and deep tech. Together, we are poised to redefine transportation and shape the future of Advanced Air Mobility.”

When it comes to aircraft technology, the South Korean AAM company is working with multiple suppliers and manufacturing partners, who will support its efforts to bring the SA-1 to market in 2028. These companies include GKN Aerospace for electrical wiring and interconnection system, Qarbon Aerospace for thermoplastic carbon-composite components, and Umbra Group for motor control electronics and actuators.

Last year, the company partnered with Honeywell Aerospace for Anthem, an innovative cloud-connected cockpit. Other key partners include BAE Systems for flight controls and EP Systems for batteries.

The SA-1 eVTOL aircraft is expected to have a maximum range of around 60 miles (96 km). In addition, Supernal is working on a hydrogen-powered eSTOL version of the vehicle, which would have a much longer range of up to around 621 miles (1,000 km).